Saturday, 16 February 2008

GFF Review: Mataharis - by Robert Duffin

Director: Iciar Bollain
Screenwriter: Iciar Bollain & Tatiana Rodriguez
Running Time: 100 mins

Fom writer/director Iciar Bollain (Take My Eyes), wife of Scottish screenwriter Paul Laverty, comes Mataharis, a Madrid set tale of three female private detectives. No ‘girl power’ pop clichés here though, think Ken Loach’s Charlie’s Angels. Carmen (Nuria Gonzalez), Inès (Maria Vazquez), and Eva (Najwa Nimri) are three working women, struggling to juggle the commitments of their demanding jobs and disastrous personal lives. Carmen is struggling to reconnect with her husband while falling for a client, Eva suspects her husband is harbouring a dark secret and Inès has been hired to infiltrate a multinational corporation and spy on Union activists.

The film suffers from a slight televisual aesthetic, but Bollain’s steadicam lensing and location photography gives the film a feel of urban grittiness. The three intertwining narratives also suffer from over familiarity; secret trysts and stockholm syndrome are easily predicted. However Bollain and Rodriguez’s sharp writing and characterisation results in three affable and empathetic women who get at the heart of the inherent juxtaposition in their lives: they’re surveillance methods are flawless, but they can never understand what’s going on in their personal situations. The marital disintegration of Eva and Inaki (Tristan Ulloa) is genuinely shattering, as is the doomed relationship between Inès and Union ringleader Manuel (Diego Martin). The three leads, well known in their native land, shine here, as does Bollain who can return to the Laverty household with her head held high.

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